The important thing for many of us that ride is to enjoy what we do, feel good about our horse’s well-being, and to be able to walk pain free after we ride. Most of us also know quality feed and regular exercise for our horse is important, however; when it comes to our own bodies, we are more likely to find ourselves pushing through extreme pain and stiffness, calling it a day only after thoroughly overworking our bodies. If you started riding at an early age you will almost certainly recall how easily you managed to recover from your first falls – we seemed to ‘bounce’ and get right back on without a thought. As we age, it is a scientific fact that we no longer ‘bounce’ – we hit hard and as adults, we take the full impact of our falls directly into our bodies. All of the injuries we experience in our lives add up over time and begin to overwhelm our bodies. Protective postures begin to show up and before we know it, we end up walking through life crooked, sometimes without even realizing it.
Now, imagine getting on your horse with this new picture of yourself – crooked, stiff, or even in pain. All of these symptoms are now passed on to our equine partners, causing them to be crooked, stiff or in pain. Your horse has no way to tell you what is happening, except to go lame, have health issues, or have a change in behavior. You can stop this pattern, and there are many possible benefits to be gained between both you, and your horse. The strength, flexibility and stamina required to ride our horse is more significant than we give ourselves credit for. Making sure your muscles are neither under or over developed can be an issue that we aren’t even aware of. Horseback riding uses some common muscles groups (legs, abdominals, back and shoulders) but also some very uncommon ones including inner thighs, sub-occipitals, lower abdominals and hip flexors.
Horses are amazingly sensitive animals. When a horse has a rider in the saddle, they pick up so many signals from us. This includes how tense we are both physically and emotionally. They also pick up mis-cues from us if our bodies are not in balance. Think of the horse that always pulls to the right. Now, let’s look at your own body. Is one shoulder higher than the other one? Perhaps one hip is more forward than the other one. Imagine now how that will translate to your amazingly sensitive horse once you get in the saddle.
Any horse and rider, no matter what discipline, can benefit from having more balance in the saddle. You will benefit by being able to be more effective and efficient, and your horse will benefit by being happier, more balanced and easier to ride. Therapeutic massage sessions assist with resolving ongoing soft tissue damage and aids in removing obstacles to achieving a more enjoyable partnership with your horse, as well as contributing to injury prevention for both of you.
The recipe for a lifetime of carefree riding includes regular exercise, both on and off a horse, with lots of stretching in between. Take time to warm up your muscles before riding or working around the barn, especially when it’s cold outside. Also take some time to stretch out after exerting yourself – these things pay off in the long run to allow you to move more freely throughout your entire life!
Our mission is to help our clients to stay “Active For Life!”. For the professional athlete, this might mean achieving higher performance levels, but for the average rider it means improving quality of life – before, during and after your ride. With massage/bodywork, we help our clients to shift their way of thinking about chronic and acute pain. Just maybe – you really don’t have to live with that pain you feel today!